Pressure grows over RBS bonuses
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted there should be no big, million pound-plus bonus payout for the boss of the mainly state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland.
Mr Clegg dismissed reports that RBS chief executive Stephen Hester was in line for an award of £1.5 million or more as "pure speculation".
"You are asking me about a hypothetical outcome that I don't believe will arise," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
He said the Government's ability to influence bonus payments at RBS - which is 83%-owned by the taxpayer - was "constrained" as a result of contractual arrangements entered into by the last Labour government.
However he made clear that ministers expected the overall bonus pool at the bank to be "considerably lower" than it was last year.
"We have been very, very clear that in RBS - and for that matter in other banks - the bonus pool has got to be considerably lower than it was last year," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.
"The Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority, are saying exactly the same thing because any money that is spare should be where possible be used to repair the banks' balance sheets."
Mr Clegg stressed no decisions had been taken yet on the bonuses at RBS. But after David Cameron said last week that Mr Hester's bonus would be "a lot less" than the £2 million award he received last year, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Prime Minister had to ensure the awards were kept in check.
And Mr Miliband later went further, calling for Mr Hester to be stripped of his bonus altogether. "Taxpayers are still footing the bill for what's happening at the Royal Bank of Scotland," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics.
"If responsibility means anything I don't think he should be getting his bonus. And the Prime Minister, if he's true to his word, would exercise his responsibility to do something about that."